I always stress how important it is for Singles to have friends and friendly acquaintances, to get out there (or at very least into the blogosphere here) and be a presence in the community or communities. If you live in a small village or tiny Catholic community, then it is a good idea to travel a bit or surf the web to make more acquaintances and potential friends. As Singles, you have more freedom to do that than married people, especially married people with children.
Recently I got an email from a long-term Single reader puzzling out her friend situation. She mentioned a good female friend, a soul mate, who is married with two children. When the second baby was born, the friend said she didn't have any time to get together, or even email. She had time only for Facebook.
Now, my brother has two babies under three, and one of my best friends has one baby under two, and a friend in Scotland has a baby under one. Thus, I understand where your fellow reader's married friend is coming from. She literally has only enough social time for Facebook, possibly between 2 AM and 3 AM, the only time she can be relatively sure both her children are asleep.
Your fellow reader, unsurprisingly, is disappointed that her friend--torn between the demands of husband and two separate children--has no time to meet or even email her. But what surprises me, is that instead of meeting her friend on Facebook, the only place she can, she dissed Facebook relationships as shallow. Speaking as someone who lives across the ocean from most of the people she knows, I love Facebook. It never occured to me that it was shallow. For me it is a magic window that helps me keep tabs on 150 people. I hope your fellow reader changes her mind. Facebook isn't everything, of course, but it is better than nothing.
One problem in Single life is expecting everything or nothing. A Single might go to a Catholic singles event expecting to see a host of good-looking, smiling Catholic bachelors from whom she might pick a future boyfriend or even husband, and be horribly disappointed to see only a few ordinary-looking Catholic men talking to their friends or lingering at the buffet table. The next time she won't go at all because, she says, there is no point. In so doing, she has missed out on a chance to make some acquaintances, to hand out her business card, maybe to meet someone who might make a good friend, and at very least to hear an interesting lecture and drink a fine glass of beer in company.
When it comes to ordinary social life--I'm not talking about courtship here--you take what people can offer. If your married girlfriend says she can't come out dancing, but she can host a tea party, you go to the tea party. If your married guy friend says he can't get out for a guys' night until May, you arrange a guys' night for May. If he cancels because his kid is sick, you reschedule. If you want to be or remain friends with people, you have to meet them where they are. It is very important for childless Singles--and I include male and female religious in this--to remember that married people are not as free as you are.
The last thing a young mother needs--a young mother with one or two almost-perpetually screaming babies, and a huge hamper of dirty laundry, and a husband who wistfully wonders where the loving has gone, and a boss or mother-in-law who tells her that she looks tired in a slightly accusatory way--is yet another person making her feel bad for not living up to their demands.
Be kind and merciful to your young married friends. Invite them to events, and be happy and welcoming when they accept and show up, but don't bank on them accepting and showing up, especially if they have children.
Now that I am married, not Single, I have figured out why married people have dinners without Singles or conversations that make Single people feel left out. Married women, for example, don't often have time to meet up even with each other. I was horrified the other night to discover that a set of my friends get together now only four times a year, tops. Some are married now, and some are very busy Singles. And here was me, over in Scotland, fondly thinking they were getting together for cocktails every Friday, going to gether for pedicures, etc., etc. Apparently not.
And one thing about having a few recently married women in a car being driven by a Single woman, as happened on Saturday night: the marrieds, including me, all talked about how we argue with our husbands. I don't mean what we argue about, but why and how we argue. For example, when each of us gets upset about something, our husbands tell us we shouldn't be so upset, and then we get even more upset because we think our husbands are attacking our right to be upset.
When we marrieds, who really can't talk about this with anyone else, discovered we shared the same pattern, we all laughed merrily. It was such a relief to say it to our closest friends, and to realize that this sort of argument was completely normal to our collective married experience. But the conversation did, of course, leave out the driver. I am hoping she was too busy dealing with traffic during a blizzard to notice.
It is important to have friends in your state of life. So if sometimes you are not invited to a married lady party, understand that sometimes married ladies need to chat about married lady stuff without worrying about hurting Single girls' feelings. Don't let this keep you, however, from inviting married friends to stuff you yourself arrange or at very least to be your Facebook friends. One thing I keep hearing from busy young marrieds and mothers is how much they really miss their friends.